Mealtime Partners, Inc.

Specializing in Assistive Dining and Drinking Equipment

September 2015 Independent Eating and Drinking Newsletter

Independent Eating...   is a Wonderful Thing

September Topics:

  • Being Safe During a Hospital Stay (Part 1)

  • Being Safe During a Hospital Stay (Part 2)

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Being Safe During a Hospital Stay (Part 1)

This article will discuss things that can make you safer during a hospital stay. One of the simplest ways of improving the outcome of a hospital stay relates to hygiene, the other is associated with antibiotics which will be discussed in the second article of this Newsletter.

Consumer Reports September 2015 issue includes a report about the occurrence of infections that are contracted during hospital stays. It is quite common to enter the hospital for treatment or surgery and acquire an infection during that stay. The two most common bacteria that can be contracted are: methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA, and clostridium difficile, or C.diff, though there are many other “bugs” that can cause serious infections. 8,000 patients a year are killed by MRSA and 27,000 die from C.diff infections.

Many patients do not understand that they have a right to request and receive high levels of cleanliness while they are in the hospital. For example, when a patient is initially admitted to the hospital and assigned a room, if the room does not look freshly cleaned and spotless, the patient should request that the room be cleaned again. However, most people are hesitant to request such action in case they upset the hospital staff. Hospital cleaning staff should clean each patient’s room on a daily basis. Once again, if this does not occur, the patient should request it. If the patient has an infection it is recommended that the room be cleaned more than once a day.

Consumer Reports provides a video of areas in a hospital room that should be particularly addressed when cleaning because of their high levels of contact by patients and hospital staff. (Click here to link to their website.)

Additionally, hospital staff should wash their hands every time they enter a patient’s room and repeat the process when they leave. Patients should advocate for themselves and ask anyone entering their room to wash their hands. This includes visitors! Hospital staff can easily spread infections if they are not meticulously conscientious about cleaning their hands as they move from patient to patient because they can spread contamination from one sick person to the next. The same Consumer Report link also provides a video demonstrating how hands should be washed. (It is the second video in the series offered at that same link.)

Despite the information about the spread of infection being well known, many hospitals throughout the United States continue to have a high rate of hospital acquired patient infections. Only a few hospitals received high ratings for avoiding infections, and surprisingly, they were not the big, well known, hospitals; nor are they teaching hospitals. Still, if some hospitals are able to create an environment where infections are controlled, and these hospitals have policies and procedures that are proven to control infection, then the methods for infection control have been established. Hospitals who continue to have patient infections occurring during hospital stays should implement better procedures for infection control. Those procedures have been established and proven by the hospitals with low rates of infection.

If you are anticipating a hospital stay, it is wise to check the levels of infection that are reported by the hospital at which you will be staying. As a patient you are entitled to have this information. Additionally, many people who have disabilities or chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to infection and special attention should be given when they enter the hospital to prevent them from acquiring an infection.


Assistive Dining at its Very Best

The Mealtime Partner Dining System provides the means to eat independently for those who are unable to feed themselves in the traditional way. Because of its flexible design it can be configured to meet the needs of almost any user and will allow a relaxed, enjoyable meal that is under the control of the person eating. They are free to take a bite of food when they want, and to pause between bites for as long as they choose. Thus they are empowered to have a traditional mealtime and will never be hurried.

Because the Mealtime Partner has three different mounting systems, as well as it being placed directly on a table for use, it can be positioned to meet the need of a diverse range of users. The Support Arm allows the spoon to be positioned to deliver food very close to the user’s lips. A small forward movement of the head can access the food on the spoon to be eaten. The Support Arm is suitable for individuals who have very limited or no extremity control because it can be fine tuned to the necessary position to provide access for them.

The Mounting Shafts provide comfortable positioning of the Mealtime Partner for those who sit close to a table but are unable to put their knees under the table because they are restricted by their wheelchair or for any other reason. The Shafts allow the device to pivot away from the table to allow easy access for users. Shafts come in five different heights.
Mealtime Partner on Support Arm

The Mealtime Partner Assistive Dining Device Mounted on the Support Arm

Mealtime Partner on Shaft

The Mealtime Partner Mounted on a 8-Inch Shaft

For those users who are able to sit at a table with their knees under it to eat, the Mealtime Partner can be mounted on legs. The legs position the device at the appropriate height for each user. Legs are supplied in three different heights.

For additional information, please call us at
800-996-8607, or email our staff for assistance by clicking here.
Mealtime Partner On Legs
The Mealtime Partner Mounted on 6-Inch Legs
The Mealtime Partner Assistive Dining Device is available directly from Mealtime Partners, Inc. or Select Dealers.


Being Safe During a Hospital Stay (Part 2)

The first article in this month’s Newsletter discussed the risks associated with infections that are acquired while people are patients in a hospital. The article focused on the spread of infection due to poor cleanliness practices. A second problem exacerbates the infection problems that exist in hospitals, and that is the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

Antibiotics are used to treat infections and their judicious use is essential because if the wrong antibiotic is used, or if the medicine is discontinued before the complete dosage has been taken, the bacteria that caused the infection can become stronger and able to resist the antibiotic that is intended to kill them. These antibiotic resistant bugs are sometimes described as “super bugs”. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the better know of these resistant bacteria. As the name indicates they become resistant to being killed by Methicillin, or other common antibotics.

The more common infections that occur in hospitals are those at the site of a surgical incision or where tubes are inserted into the body to provide blood, medicine, nutrition and hydration. Urinary catheters, used to empty the bladder, are also tubes that can become infected. The longer patients have tubes inserted in them, the higher the risk of them becoming infected.

Almost half of hospital patients receive at least one antibiotic during their stay. Unfortunately, about half of the time the specific type of antibiotic prescribed is incorrect. It is common for doctors to prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic to their hospitalized patients to protect them from infection. The problem with broad-spectrum antibiotics is that they do not discriminate between the bacteria that they kill. They kill healthy bacteria in the body that keeps us well, as well as the bad bacteria, if it is present. When good bacteria is eliminated our body is vulnerable to the invasion of bacteria that may not have been present when the antibiotics were prescribed. This can make the patient very sick or even kill them.

The top rated hospitals for infection control have an “antibiotic stewardship program” in place. The program is typically headed by a pharmacist with expertise in infection control and includes a multidisciplinary team. All prescriptions for antibiotics are reviewed prior to them being given to the patient. The reason for the prescription, the type of antibiotic, the dosage, and the length of use, are all reviewed. This avoids patients receiving inappropriate medication for the type of infection that they have.

Even though MRSA is very dangerous it can be cured if it is treated rapidly with a drug called Vancomycin.  In the past, Vancomycin was only prescribed as the drug of last resort. Its use was withheld and thus patients with MRSA were at serious risk of their infection worsening and even of dying due to the delay in prescribing Vancomycin. Because there were complaints about the lack of its use, hospitals started using Vancomycin too much and now a bacteria that is resistant to its treatment has emerged called Vancomycin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (VRSA). VRSA is even more difficult to treat than MRSA. With proper application of medicine this evolution could have been avoided. An antibiotic stewardship program can regulate what antibiotics are used and how they are prescribed, thus lessening the risk of the evolution of infections like VRSA.

Patients should feel free to talk to the doctor about all aspects of their treatment. They should be comfortable discussing why they are being prescribed antibiotics. If it is being used to treat an infection, they should ask if tests have been run to identify the type of infection. If test results are not back and the doctor wishes to start treating the infection, they should be asked if the type of antibiotic can be changed, if test results indicate that there is a better, narrower-spectrum medication available that is superior for the treatment of the specific type of infection. Finally, there should be a discussion about the side effects that can be anticipated as a result of taking the medicine.

Anyone staying in the hospital, regardless of the reason, should advocate for their own best treatment. Sometimes, simply asking a question can trigger a thought process that might improve their care.

Did You Know? Did you know that Stanford School of Engineering researchers have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a pilot clinical study to evaluate a thought-controlled cursor with people who have spinal cord injuries? Up until now, brain control has been limited by the accuracy of the signals being translated from the brain. The Stanford researchers have developed a method of making corrective adjustments to the brain’s signals that improves the accuracy of the information that is being translated. The goal of the research is to provide reliable thought controlled prosthetics to people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to control a virtual keyboard. For more information about this research, click here.

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